Tag Archives: Simon & Schuster

Three Business Books Debut on Best-Seller List This Week

This was an incredible week for new entries on the Business Best-Seller lists.  Today, the Wall Street Journal published its list of hardcover business books, and an astonishing three new books debuted (March 11-12, 2017, p. C-10).

The first is Unshakeable:  Your Financial Freedom Playbook by Tony Robbins (New York:  Simon & Schuster, 2017).   It debuted all the way to the top – in its first week on the best-seller list, it sits at # 1.

The second is Age-Proof:  Living Longer without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip by Jean Chatzky and Michael F. Rozien (New York:  Grand Central Life & Style, 2017).  It came in at # 3.

The last is The Complacent Class:  The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream by Tyler Cowen (New York:  St. Martin’s Press, 2017).  This book debuted at # 6.

Over the next few days, I will discuss with Randy Mayeux the possibility of these books appearing at our First Friday Book Synopsis in the upcoming months.  Look for additional information and decisions very soon.

Three Business Book Debuts on Best-Seller List

Three new business books debuted on the best-seller list published in the Wall Street Journal (October 15-16, 2016, p. C14).

These are

# 1 Love Your Life, Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze (Ramsey Press)

# 3 Get What’s Yours for Medicare by Phillip Moeller (Simon & Schuster)

# 6 Competing Against Luck by Clayton Christensen (Harper)

Please note how astonishing it is that a book would catapult to the # 1 spot on the list as a debut.  I am not sure that I have seen that before.

We are doing the Christensen book at the November First Friday Book Synopsis, but will give strong consideration to these other books for presentation in other months, as we continue to monitor their standing on business best-seller lists.


Can’t Wait for McCullough’s Next Book About The Wright Brothers

I am sure you join me in great anticipation of David McCullough‘s next book, The Wright Brothers (Simon & Schuster, 2015), scheduled for release on May 15.WrightBrothers Cover

He is certainly one of the great writers of our time.  Truman (Simon & Schuster, 1992) is a terrific and comprehensive biography of America’s favorite autocratic president.  The Greater Journey:  Americans in Paris (Simon & Schuster, 2011) makes you want to book a flight and get in a time machine to travel backwards.

There have been plenty of books about the Wright Brothers, and their escapades with the flying machine.  But, something tells me that in McCullough’s book, we will experience that familiar story in a way that no one else has provided it.

DavidMcCulloughPictureMcCullough is a two-time Pulitzer prize winner.  He also wrote books about John Adams and Albert Einstein.  He weaves details in a storybook fashion that few writers can copy.  I found this positive quote about him on the web site for the National Endowment for the Humanities, of which he was a 2003 Jefferson lecturer:  “David McCullough throws himself into the research of his subjects, tracing the roads they traveled, reading the books they read, and seeing the homes they lived in. His diligence pays off in detailed and engaging narratives.”

We are just under two months away from its release, and his new book is already # 1 on the Amazon.com best-selling list in scientists, aerospace, and history.  Overall, it is # 303 in book sales – two months away!

And, just for credibility, my order for the book is in the queue.

We may see this book at the First Friday Book Synopsis.  That all depends upon how “businessy” the book turns out to be.

In the meantime, May 15 cannot come soon enough.


A Rare Exhortation: Thurber’s 13 Clocks is Required Reading

On June 13, 2014, Alexandra Alter called James Thurber‘s The 13 Clocks (Simon & Schuster, 1950) “required reading for human beings.”

Why is that?  What would make someone suggest that this book, now written 65 years ago, is so important?

Alter says, “‘The 13 Clocks is at once a fable, a love story, a ghost story, a revenge tale, and a poem of sorts, that’s simultaneously silly and grim’ (WSJ, June 13, 2014, p. D1)13ClocksCover

The book is only 124 pages long, and contained within it are illustrations by Marc Simont.

As one customer reviewer noted on Amazon.com, the book is a tale written for teenagers and their parents.  Here is the description from the same site:

“The wicked, one-eyed duke of Coffin Castle lives in his cold fortress along with his beautiful, warm niece Saralinda. There are thirteen clocks in the castle that stopped marking time at the same moment. The duke hates time; indeed, he believes he has killed it. The only things he loves are his jewels and, apparently, his niece. There have been many suitors for Saralinda, but all failed to pass the terrible tests the duke set for them. A prince, Zorn of Zorna, disguised as a minstrel, comes to seek Saralinda’s hand.”

Last summer, author Neil Gaiman led a multi-week discussion about this book for the Wall Street Journal Book Club.   One reader asked him about some nuances he discovered when he read the book to his own children.  This is his reply:  “One thing you really only discover when you read this book aloud is the amount of weird and wonderful internal rhymes.  It is a book that in many ways is meant to be read aloud, which is not a way people read these days….I highly recommend that if you have anybody that will sit still long enough, or possibly just a patient dog or hamster, read this book aloud to them.  If you read this book aloud, you will find things in it that you did not know were there” (WSJ, June 13, 2014, p. D6).

How much do you know about James Thurber?   You can find his full biography from the Encyclopedia of World Biography by clicking here.

James Thurber PictureJames Thurber was an American writer and artist. One of the most popular humorists (writers of clever humor) of his time, Thurber celebrated in stories and in cartoons the comic frustrations of eccentric yet ordinary people.  He was born on December 8, 1894, in Columbus, Ohio, to Charles Leander and Mary Agnes Thurber. The family soon moved to Virginia where Charles was employed as a secretary to a congressman. While playing with his older brother, Thurber was permanently blinded in his left eye after being shot with an arrow. Problems with his eyesight would plague Thurber for much of his life. After Charles’s employer lost a reelection campaign, the Thurbers were forced to move back to Ohio. Thurber attended the local public schools and graduated high school with honors in 1913. He went on to attend Ohio State University—though he never took a degree—and worked for some years afterwards in Ohio as a journalist.  Thurber moved to New York City in 1926 and a year later he met writer E. B. White (1899–1985) and was taken onto the staff of the New Yorker magazine. In collaboration with White he produced his first book, Is Sex Necessary? (1929). By 1931 his first cartoons began appearing in the New Yorker. These primitive yet highly stylized characterizations included seals, sea lions, strange tigers, harried men, determined women, and, most of all, dogs. Thurber’s dogs became something like a national comic institution, and they dotted the pages of a whole series of books.  He died in New York City on November 2, 1961 from pneumonia after suffering a stroke.  Read more: http://www.notablebiographies.com/St-Tr/Thurber-James.html#ixzz3UIJWXGKi

I’ve long put away children’s books at home.  But, I am very active in a program entitled Take Time to Read, sponsored by the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.  We have received donations from our ScottishRiteHospitalparticipants at the First Friday Book Synopsis for two consecutive years.  Last year, we raised enough funds to donate 36 children’s books to area schools.

This sounds like a good book for us to take into the schools.  If Gaiman is accurate, whoever reads it needs to practice to get in the proper tones and inflections and make it come alive off the page.  If we do that, at least, it appears many students will pay attention while we read it.

The answer to the question I started with is clear.  It is important because of how we read it aloud to others.

And if listeners do not pay attention to the words with our associated tones and inflections, we can always show them the pictures!


Putnam’s Newest is a Certain Presentation For Us at the First Friday Book Synopsis

I will never forget Bowling Alone (Simon & Schuster, 2001).  It remains the most depressing book we have presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.

It contained chart after chart, page after page, of the demise of civic, social, religious, and fraternal groups in America.  All of it was true.  If you were a fan of those groups, you hated seeing reality in your face.

That book was written by Robert Putnam.   He receives high praise from his employer, the Department of Government at Harvard University:  “Robert D. Putnam is the Peter and Isabel MalkinRobertPutnamphoto Professor of Public Policy at Harvard, where he teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses, and is the 2013-14 Distinguished Visiting Professor at Aarhus University (Denmark). Professor Putnam is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the British Academy, and past president of the American Political Science Association. In 2006, Putnam received the Skytte Prize, the world’s highest accolade for a political scientist, and in 2012, he received the National Humanities Medal, the nation’s highest honor for contributions to the humanities.  Raised in a small town in the Midwest and educated at Swarthmore, Oxford, and Yale, he has served as Dean of the Kennedy School of Government. The London Sunday Times has called him “the most influential academic in the world today.” 

Since that one, he has authored two other books that did not enjoy the same imprint:

Better Together:  Restoring the American Community – co-authored with Lewis Feldstein (Simon & Schuster, 2004)

American Grace:  How Religion Unites and Divides Us – co-authored with David Campbell (Simon & Schuster, 2012)

Our Kids BookCoverOn March 10, he released his newest, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis (Simon & Schuster, 2015).  As of this writing, it has flown to the top of the best seller lists.  On Amazon.com, it ranks:

What is this one about?  Classes in America do exist.  And, they have an impact in many areas of our lives.  Members of lower classes have great difficulty competing with members of classes above them.  This book does not simply give that idea – it develops and documents it.

You can read a full review of the book by Jason DeParle published in the New York Times on March 4, 2015 by clicking here.  A key phrase from that review gives a clue:  “…the state of upward mobility. Widening income gaps, he argues, have brought profound but underappreciated changes to family life, neighborhoods and schools in ways that give big advantages to children at the top and make it ever harder for those below to work their way up.

As with his previous best-seller, reality may not be pretty.  It is not fun to recognize what is actually true.

I don’t know what month we will present this one, or who will deliver it.  But, we have waited for a blockbuster by Putnam for quite some time.

Here it is.  Look for an announcement about it in our advertising in the months to come.




Marton’s Great Escape is Worth the Trouble to Find a Copy

The Great Escape:  Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World (New York:  Simon & Schuster, 2006).  

Kati MartonI just finished this wonderful book by Kati Marton.  Marton was an NPR and ABC news correspondent, who was widowed twice.  Her first marriage was to ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, with whom she had two children.  Her second was to Richard Holbrooke, who at the time of his death was the Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.  I was turned on to this book when I read her newest one entitled Paris:  A Love Story (New York:  Simon & Schuster, 2012).

Great Escape Cover

This book centers upon Budapest, Hungary, which is her native country.  She dedicates it to her parents, who were both journalists in the World Wars and beyond.

The nine Jews the book features are:

four scientists – Edward Teller, John von Neumann, Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner

two motion picture directors and producers – Michael Curtiz, Alexandra Korda

two photographers – Robert Capa, Andre Kertesz

one writer – Arthur Koestler

The stories of all nine are brought to life as I have previously never experienced it.  The book is non-fiction, of course, but it is almost novel-like in its appearance and presentation.  For example, Capa was known as the greatest war photographer of all time.  He was the first photographer to go ashore at D-Day in Normandy.   Curtiz directed Casablanca, which Marton says “is still the most popular, the most familiar,. the most discused, and the most dissected romantic film in history” (p. 145).   Koestler wrote Darkness at Noon, which “is the story of the first half of the century, in which the old institutions – social, economic, and spiritual –  have broken down” (p. 135), and was the most important anticommunist novel ever written.  All four scientists discussed in the book were heavily involved in either advances toward the computer age or the nuclear age, where progress in both were deeply entrenched in politics and personal and professional  jealousies.

We can’t do this one at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  It is too old, and it is not an exclusive business book.  So, it does not fit our current context.  But that shouldn’t stop you from reading it.

First, however, you have to find it.  Unfortunately, the book is out of print.  To obtain it, you must visit secondary sellers.  But, if you look hard enough, you will find it and be rewarded with an amazingly readable and exciting work.